Архив метки: Europe

Google tweaks Android licensing terms in Europe to allow Google app unbundling — for a fee

Google has announced changes to the licensing model for its Android mobile operating system in Europe,  including introducing a fee for licensing some of its own brand apps, saying it’s doing so to comply with a major European antitrust ruling this summer.
In July the region’s antitrust regulators hit Google with a recordbreaking $5BN fine for violations pertaining to Android, finding the company had abused the dominance of the platform by requiring manufacturers pre-install other Google apps in order to license its popular Play app store. 
Regulators also found Google had made payments to manufacturers and mobile network operators in exchange for exclusively pre-installing Google Search on their devices, and used Play store licensing to prevent manufacturers from selling devices based on Android forks.
Google disputes the Commission’s findings, and last week filed its appeal — a legal process that could take years. But in the meanwhile it’s making changes to how it licenses Android in Europe to avoid the risk of additional penalties heaped on top of the antitrust fine.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice president of platforms & ecosystems, revealed the new licensing options in a blog post published today.
Under updated “compatibility agreements”, he writes that mobile device makers will be able to build and sell Android devices intended for the European Economic Area (EEA) both with and without Google mobile apps preloaded — something Google’s same ‘compatibility’ contracts restricted them from doing before, when it was strictly either/or (either you made Android forks, or you made Android devices with Google apps — not both).
“Going forward, Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets for the European Economic Area (EEA),” confirms Lockheimer.
However the company is also changing how it licenses the full Android bundle — which previously required OEMs to load devices with the Google mobile application suite, Google Search and the Chrome browser in order to be able to offer the popular Play Store — by introducing fees for OEMs wanting to pre-load a subset of those same apps under “a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the EEA”.
Though Google stresses there will be no charge for using the Android platform itself. (So a pure fork without any Google services preloaded still wouldn’t require a fee.)
Google also appears to be splitting out Google Search and Chrome from the rest of the Google apps in its mobile suite (which traditionally means stuff like YouTube, the Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, although Lockheimer’s blog post does not make it clear which exact apps he’s talking about) — letting OEMs selectively unbundle some Google apps, albeit potentially for a fee, depending on the apps in question.
“[D]evice manufacturers will be able to license the Google mobile application suite separately from the Google Search App or the Chrome browser,” is what Lockheimer unilluminatingly writes.
Perhaps Google wants future unbundled Android forks to still be able to have Google Search or Chrome, even if they don’t have the Play store, but it’s really not at all clear which configurations of Google apps will be permitted under the new licensing terms, and which won’t.
“Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with our other apps helped us fund the development and free distribution of Android, we will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the EEA. Android will remain free and open source,” Lockheimer adds, without specifying what the fees will be either. 
“We’ll also offer new commercial agreements to partners for the non-exclusive pre-installation and placement of Google Search and Chrome. As before, competing apps may be pre-installed alongside ours,” he continues to complete his trio of poorly explained licensing changes.
We’ve asked Google to clarify the various permitted and not permitted app configurations, as well as which apps will require a fee (and which won’t), and how much the fees will be, and will update this post with any response.
The devil in all those details should become clear soon though, as Google says the new licensing options will come into effect on October 29 for all new (Android based) smartphones and tablets launched in the EEA.

Google tweaks Android licensing terms in Europe to allow Google app unbundling — for a fee

Make Way For Another European Square: SumUp Launches With $20M+ In Backing

sumup

Add one more to the list of companies going head-to-head in the area of card payments by way of smartphone attachments: today, Berlin-based SumUp is opening up for business in the UK, Germany, Ireland and Austria, backed by an eight-figure Series A round, understood by TechCrunch to be over $20 million.

SumUp’s $20 million Series A investment comes from b-to-v Partners, Shortcut Ventures, Tengelmann Ventures and Klaus Hommels, the early Skype, Facebook and Xing investor. Before the $20 million round, SumUp had been bootstrapped by its founders, which include Daniel Klein, SumUp’s CEO, who was also one of the founders of PayPal competitor MoneyBookers (later rebranded as Skrill).

Similar to services like like Square, PayPal’s Here, iZettle, mPowa, Payleven and Intuit’s GoPayment, SumUp works by way of a free dongle that attaches to a smartphone or tablet — in its case an Android or iOS device — which can then be used with an app to read cards and take payments. And like the others, SumUp is targeting the large swathe of merchants and small businesses who currently do not have the facilities to take card payments. But if this sounds a little me-too and crowded, it’s clearly a space where investors still see a lot of opportunity for a startup to make a killing.

SumUp estimates that there are some 20 million small businesses in Europe today, but a large part of them are still only able to take payments by cash and checks because of the costs and infrastructure associated with traditional card payment services. Like others in the mobile payment space SumUp is banking on the growing uptake of smartphones — currently 32% penetration in Europe overall — and the increasing reliance on card transactions — they’re growing by 18% annually — to change that.

What is perhaps noteworthy about SumUp is that it is kicking off with a full launch — not a limited beta — in these four countries, with two of them, Germany and the UK, being some of the largest retail markets in Europe. The biggest competitor in Europe, iZettle, has up to now carved out some market share in the Nordics but is still only in beta in the UK; and of course Square and PayPal, the two biggest players in the U.S., have yet to enter the market here — although that seems to be something coming very soon.

[The launch today comes after a four-month closed beta in Germany, the UK, Ireland and Austria, which had been spotted early on by the German blog Deutsche Startups. The company has some 100 employees working in Berlin, Dublin and London.]

SumUp takes a 2.75% cut of every transaction made using its reader. It currently works with MasterCard, Visa and Europay and Stefan Jeschonnek, the MD and another co-founder, says that it’s currently in discussions with other card companies to extend that list.

You may recall that iZettle has been in a pickle in Europe over Visa cutting off its service because of the method iZettle uses to authenticate card users — iZettle requires a signature, which Visa says doesn’t meet its requirements. SumUp also takes signatures for authentication, but only on MasterCard transactions. For Visa customers get sent an SMS with a secure link, which they have to access on their devices to manually enter their full card numbers.

That sounds cumbersome, but Jeschonnek says SumUp is working on another method to speed up that process in future. “We are looking at different technology that we can use, and we are considering the chip-and-PIN solution [used by merchants who have payment terminals],” he says.

Another notable aspect of SumUp’s service is that the company is already developing the idea as more than just a point-of-sale card payment provision. Merchants have the option of using the app to preload several items that they sell, and that effectively turns SumUp into a kind of cash register.

This is, for now, limited to being used within SumUp’s own service, although Jeschonnek says it is also looking at how it might leverage APIs to offer this kind of functionality within merchant’s own apps.

“But right now we’re mainly focused on the problem of getting merchants to take cards,” he says. “We’re trying to solve a problem that still hasn’t been solved.”


Make Way For Another European Square: SumUp Launches With $20M+ In Backing

Report: Payleven, A European Square From Rocket Internet, Gets Funding From NEA, Holzbrinck, Ru-Net

payleven

With Square yet to enter Europe, there is an increasing amount of activity from would-be competitors looking to fill the same niche using dongles on smartphones to enable card payments. The latest comes from Payleven, which has picked up “tens of millions” of euros in funding from New Enterprise Associates, Holtzbrinck Ventures and the Russian VC ru-net, according to an unconfirmed report in Deutsche Startups. Payleven is part of Rocket Internet, the incubator/investment vehicle from the Samwer brothers (known for developing clones of popular U.S. services like Groupon — and then selling them as part of inorganic growth plays).

Rocket Internet is famously secretive about who invests in its projects and how much, so it’s been hard to pin this one down. The responses we’ve received have been not flat-out denials, and with a wide berth might even read them as indirect confirmations. But they’re thin on detail: “Unfortunately we cannot provide any more colour on that [news],” Holzbrinck told TechCrunch. “I think you’re very well aware of Rocket’s policy on disclosing information to the press.” ”As usual Rocket is not very open minded about publishing information about the funding,” another person close to the deal said. Rocket Internet, meanwhile, has also declined to comment directly but has opened the kimono a little to outline Payleven’s strategy going forward.

The company is already active with its payments service in Germany and Brazil.  According to Fred Klinkert, Rocket’s manager for global venture development, the plan is to expand further to “key European and large emerging markets.”

In fact, this puts the company somewhat in contrast with another Square competitor, the Stockholm-based iZettle, which last week grabbed a $31.4-million round from Greylock, MasterCard and more. Its CEO Jacob de Geer told TechCrunch at the time of the announcement that the funds would be used to expand in Europe, not elsewhere. (Square, by comparison, has raised $141 million at a $4 billion valuation.)

Meanwhile, Rocket Internet has been busy with other activity in emerging markets, an increasing focus for the company. FoodPanda, an online food ordering service, is now open for business in India, following on from FoodPanda sites in Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam. Other e-commerce operations covering home furnishings (yes, Fab clones) and more are also part of the plan.

There is another area where Rocket’s Payleven stands out from Square and iZettle, and could make it one to watch ahead.

Like Square and iZettle, Payleven is largely aimed at merchants and others who have not had the facilities to process card payments at the point of sale. While Square and iZettle have spent a lot of resources encouraging merchants to sign on to their platform, Rocket Internet has a portfolio of other operations that could serve as a very immediate route to customers for Payleven’s dongles: take-out food companies (FoodPanda) and private accommodation (for its Airbnb clone Wimdu) among them.

Also, it should be pointed out that although the Samwers’ are often dismissed as clone makers, they have continued to attract not only customers, but investment and partnerships with established players. Across the markets where Payleven is already in business, it has deals with MasterCard, American Express and Eurocard (Germany) and AmEx, Diners’ Club, MasterCard and Visa (Brazil). Their Wimdu venture has had $110 million in backing so far, Deutsche Startups points out.

NEA has not yet responded for this story, but there is a past connection between the company and Rocket.

NEA was one of the earliest investors in Groupon, a company that also bought one of the Samwer brothers’ previous ventures, CityDeal, and subsequently put brothers Oliver and Marc Samwer in charge of the European operation — a position that has only changed in the last couple of months, with the brothers stepping down from their managerial roles and getting replaced by an ex-Dell executive Veit Dengler, who is now SVP in charge of Europe, based in Austria.


Report: Payleven, A European Square From Rocket Internet, Gets Funding From NEA, Holzbrinck, Ru-Net